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May 29 2017 7:01 PM

Donald Trump Has a Magnetic Personality and Exudes Positive Energy, According to Bananas White House Statement

The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker has a comprehensive story about Donald Trump’s “snubs and slights,” which somehow spins one of the few truly admirable qualities of Donald Trump’s personality – his glee in belittling and humiliating the boot-lickers and opportunists who choose to work for him – into a negative. Working in the Trump White House, Parker reports, is basically like working for an insult comic who’s always trying out new material. From casually shattering Sean Spicer’s dreams of meeting the Pope to warning everyone from his U.N. Ambassador to his sons that he can fire them any old time he pleases, Trump regularly rewards his employees’ loyalty with undermining pettiness.

To respond to this assertion that working for Donald Trump is awful, the White House’s Hope Hicks released a remarkable statement that was absolutely not dictated by her boss while he paced behind her, furiously chewing gum:

President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.
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What a set of things to say about a president who’s consistently miserable, sarcastic, and angry! Like many such over-the-top statements from the Trump White House, it scans equally well in Trump Voice and Drippingly Sarcastic, John-C.-McGinley-in-Scrubs Voice. All you need is to add some italics:

President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats eeeeeeeeeveryone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.

May 29 2017 3:13 PM

Texas Representative Sparks Capitol Fracas After Bragging He Called ICE on Immigration Protestors

A near-brawl broke out on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives Monday after a Republican legislator declared he had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protestors decrying the state’s new anti-sanctuary city bill, according to two Democratic congressmen.

Democratic representatives Ramon Romero Jr. and Cesar Blanco told reporters that they were discussing the demonstration, which sent hundreds into the gallery chanting in protest of Texas SB 4, which threatens local law enforcement agents with jail if they do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. They were interrupted, Romero and Blanco said, by GOP representative Matt Rinaldi, who called the protestors a “disgrace” and said, “Fuck them, I called ICE.”

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In the resulting fracas, Rinaldi said he was pushed and shoved, calling the other representatives’ behavior “basically just bullying.” Another rep, Justin Rodriguez, told the Texas Tribune he heard Rinaldi threaten to “put a bullet in one of my colleagues’ heads.” For his part, Rinaldi told the Tribune that some of the protestors held signs reading “I’m illegal and I’m here to stay,” and that he called ICE “to incentivize them to leave the House.”

Rinaldi later issued a statement on social media:

“I’ve never seen anything like this on the House floor,” Romero told the Observer. “I’ve never seen a lawmaker cuss another lawmaker out like that.”

Rinaldi’s district is in the city of Irving. Notes the Observer’s editor on Twitter:

May 29 2017 2:03 PM

French President Calls Out Putin During Summit, Sounds Like What U.S. Presidents Used to Sound Like

In April, centrist politician Emmanuel Macron overcame populist, nativist Marine La Pen to win the presidency in France. Macron’s election helped ease fears—at least temporarily—of a growing populist wave aided by Russia-induced chaos. The French race had many of the same elements of Russian disruption that infiltrated the U.S. election, including online Russian propaganda and a hack and late WikiLeaks dump of Macron campaign emails. Vladimir Putin even went so far as to meet with Le Pen in Moscow a month before the election. Macron still prevailed and, on Monday at the Palace of Versailles, met with the man at the spiritual heart of Russian meddling, President Vladimir Putin.

Two weeks into his term, the 39-year-old Macron struck an assertive, principled tone that you would have expected from an American president meeting with an increasingly assertive adversary. Macron met with his Russian counterpart privately, and then stood at a podium next to Putin and accused Russian state news organizations of an intentional disinformation campaign (via the AP):

French President Emmanuel Macron has made an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as “propaganda” organs during France’s election campaign. Speaking at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron accused the two outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, of spreading fake news. He said that’s why he banned their reporters from his campaign headquarters during the race for the French presidency, which he went on to win May 7.
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"It's indispensable to talk to Russia because there are a number of international subjects that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them," Macron told reporters at the G7 summit Saturday. "I will be demanding in my exchanges with Russia.” Macron’s assertiveness is noticeably absent in American interactions with Russia, which have melted into a bizarre sycophancy. Macron, like an increasing number of European leaders, seems to have sensed the softening in Washington and has indicated he will strike an equally tough pose in his dealings with the Trump White House. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” Macron said of his tight-gripped handshake with Donald Trump during his recent visit.

May 29 2017 12:12 PM

President of United States Waits Nearly Three Days to Condemn Racist Portland Murders

Donald Trump issued a generic Twitter statement Monday morning addressing the horrific murders of two men by a white supremacist in Portland, Oregon Friday evening.

It wasn't exactly an empassioned defense of peace, tolerance, and liberalism, much less an exaltation of the heroism displayed by the men who were slain. The Trump tweet, from the POTUS account, came after the president faced increasing pressure to issue a public statement on the stabbing deaths of the two men trying to stop the harassment of young Muslim women, one who was wearing a hijab, on the city light rail Friday.

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For a candidate that became a darling of the white nationalist fringe, thrusting them closer to the mainstream of American life, the absence of a statement lauding the bravery of the citizens who stepped in to try to stop a raving racist lunatic was particularly conspicuous. The president returned from his trip abroad Saturday and still waited another day-and-ahalf to make an official statement.

If you thought perhaps the president was busy doing presidential things during that time, here is a sampling of the 21 tweets he had time to fire off while he was not condemning the racist attack and standing with Americans who gave their lives to stop an episode of violent bigotry.

An interesting insight into a president's priorities.

May 28 2017 7:00 PM

Half of New Jersey 8th Grade Class Refuses to Pose With Speaker Ryan

During a field trip to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, half of an eighth grade class from New Jersey refused to take part in a photo-op with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Around 100 students from South Orange Middle School sat in a parking lot across the street as Ryan took photos with the rest of the class. Ryan posted one of those photos to his Instagram account with the caption, “Got that Friday Feeling.”

Got that #FridayFeeling 👊

A post shared by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on

Students who explained their decision to sit out the picture said they didn’t want to be associated with any of Ryan’s policies. “I think that taking the picture represents that you agree with the same political views and I don’t agree with his political views so I chose not to be in it,” said Wendy Weeks. Others, however, were more explicit that their rejection to taking part in the picture had to do with President Donald Trump. “I didn’t want to be in [the picture] because he believes in most of what Trump believes in,” another 8th grader, Louisa Maynard-Parisi, told the Village Green.

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Some who did participate in the photo-op said it had more to do with meeting the third most-powerful person in the country than endorsing his policies. “I thought it would be interesting to see one of the nation’s lawmakers in person even if I strongly disagree with many of his views,” Alex Klint said.

Although some parents expressed reservations to sitting out the picture because Ryan is an elected official, others publicly expressed support for those who sat out of the photo. Elissa Elliott Malespina, for example, wrote on Facebook that she was “so proud” of her son Matthew.



May 28 2017 6:01 PM

Homeland Security Considers Laptop Ban for All Flights In and Out of the U.S.

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said he “might” move to ban laptops in carry-on luggage from all international flights. “There's a real threat—numerous threats against aviation,” Kelly said on Fox News Sunday. “That's really the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it's a U.S. carrier, particularly if it's full of mostly U.S. folks.” Regardless of whether laptops are banned in cabins, the United States is planning to “raise the bar” on security and improve screening of carry-on luggage.

“We are still following the intelligence," Kelly said, "and are in the process of defining this, but we're going to raise the bar generally speaking for aviation much higher than it is now.” In March, the Trump administration banned large electronic devices in cabins on flights from 10 airports, mostly in the Middle East. The ban, which requires any electronic devices larger than a smartphone to be checked-in, currently applies to non-stop flights to the United States from Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

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There have been rumors about a laptop ban for weeks, and on Thursday Politico reported that airlines were getting ready for what they saw as an imminent rollout of the new restrictions. “We haven't gotten firm confirmation but by all accounts. It looks like we think they’re going to do it,” a U.S. airline source said.

May 28 2017 5:09 PM

Angela Merkel Suggests Europe Can No Longer Rely on Trump’s America

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent her strongest message yet that Europe is drifting apart from the United States under President Donald Trump. Speaking at a campaign rally in Munich, Merkel came to the stark conclusion that Europe’s alliances that have held together much of the West after World War II “are to some extent over. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.” Although Merkel never mentioned Trump by name there was little doubt she referred to him in the speech in which she also said that Brexit meant Europe could no longer count on its traditional allies.

“And that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands—of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia,” Merkel said in a beer tent at a campaign event. “But we have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans.”

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Merkel’s words come shortly after Trump was in Europe for a NATO and G-7 summit, where he criticized some of America’s most traditional allies. The U.S. president criticized NATO for failing to spend enough on defense and at one point characterized Germany’s trade surplus as “very bad.” Trump also annoyed several leaders in the region, including Merkel, for his refusal to endorse the Paris climate change agreement.

Richard Haass, the head of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote on Twitter that Merkel’s speech was “a watershed” that the “US has sought to avoid since WW2.”

The chancellor’s address illustrates how much Britain and the United States have hurt their international standing in recent months. The Economist explains:

Foreigners often get Mrs Merkel all wrong. She is not the queen of Europe, nor has she any desire to be it. She is a domestic leader and politician whose mounting international stature is always a function of her ability to serve the interests and predilections of German voters. It is predominantly because Germans, for deep historical and cultural reasons, feel so “European” that that she talks and acts in a “European” way. Perhaps all the more for this, Mrs Merkel’s comments today illustrate how much Trumpandbrexit has hurt America and Britain in the past months. They have made it not just possible but also electorally beneficial for a friendly leader of a crucial partner to bash them in public. And more than that: to do it with sincerity.

For now, polls show Merkel is likely to be reelected to a fourth term as chancellor in September.

May 28 2017 3:34 PM

Trump Returns Home, Goes On Twitter Rant Against “Fake News”

After he got back home Saturday night, one of President Donald Trump’s first orders of business was to go on a Twitter rant. There had recently been word that Trump’s allies (and his lawyers) urged him to lay off Twitter as his scandals mount. But so far, it doesn’t seem like he’s listening.

His first tweet of the day was an innocuous celebration of Greg Gianforte’s victory in Montana’s special congressional election.

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And then he celebrated the “great success” of his Europe trip. “Hard work but big results!”

Twenty-three minutes later, the president’s rant really began as he took on one of his favorite topics: Fake news. The leaks from the White House “are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” he wrote.

The commander in chief told followers that whenever they read “sources say” in articles “it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”

Nevermind that he didn’t always feel this way considering White House staffers have often only talked on the condition of anonymity. Plus he relied a lot on unnamed sources to make ridiculous allegations against then-President Barack Obama in 2012.

Trump then went back to Montana to complain about how little Gianforte’s victory was covered in the media.

And then the subject of leaks was clearly still gnawing at him as he took to Twitter almost two hours later to note how angry British leaders were that U.S. officials leaked details of the Manchester attack to the American press.

May 28 2017 12:30 PM

Suspect in Custody after Shooting Rampage in Rural Mississippi Kills Eight

Rural Lincoln County in Mississippi became the scene of a blood bath on Saturday night, when a man escalated a dispute with his wife and in-laws into a shooting spree that left eight people dead. By the end of the rampage, the suspect killed people in three homes, including Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr, 36. No other victims have been identified yet.

The Clarion-Ledger identified the suspect as Cory Godbolt. A reporter for the paper was a the scene of the arrest and managed to film a short interview with 35-year-old Godbolt, who was handcuffed. In the interview, Godbolt said he was talking to his wife and members of her family when somebody called law enforcement officials.

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“My pain wasn't designed for him. He was just there,” Godbolt said of the sheriff’s deputy. “We was talking about me trying to take the children home... somebody called the officer.... that's what they do, they intervene. It cost him his life. I'm sorry.” He also made it clear he had no intention of surviving his shooting rampage. “Suicide by cop was my intention,” he said. “I ain’t fit to live. Not after what I've done.”

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Willie Corey Godbolt, 35, of Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained Sunday.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety/Handout via Reuters

May 28 2017 11:38 AM

Trump Reportedly Told Close Associates U.S. Will Leave Paris Climate Agreement

President Trump may be trying to build suspense about the future of the Paris agreement on climate change, but he has told several people he plans to leave the deal, according to Axios. Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to give a sort of season-finale tone to the crucial decision: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”

Yet several key people, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have been told the decision has been made. Axios cautions Trump is known for changing his mind:

Although Trump made it clear during the campaign and in multiple conversations before his overseas trip that he favored withdrawal, he has been known to abruptly change his mind — and often floats notions to gauge the reaction of friends and aides. On the trip, he spent many hours with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, powerful advisers who back the deal.
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In Brussels, Trump told French leader Emmanuel Macron that he is under “heavy” pressure regarding the climate deal, reports CNN. “A lot of people in my country are against this agreement,” Trump allegedly said.

Trump was scheduled to meet with heads of energy companies and other big corporations over the next few days to discuss the Paris climate deal, reports Reuters. But it’s now unclear whether the meetings will still take place if the commander in chief has already made up his mind.

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